Betsy McCaughey: Republicans are wimping out on Obamacare
TOP REPUBLICAN Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers, R.-Wash., is walking back comments attributed to her that Obamacare can’t be repealed. But she’s not the only one suggesting that the goal should be making changes within the framework of the health law. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R.-Ky., says the goal is to get the law “fixed.” Apparently a lot of Republican lawmakers still haven’t read the law. If they had, they’d know the framework is corrupt.
Even presidential hopeful Senator Rand Paul, R.-Kent., speculated on Friday that repeal is unlikely because it will be “difficult to turn back the clock back.”
Nonsense. Even by the most inflated Obama administration claims, some 8 million people have signed up for exchange plans, out of a nation of 318 million. Obamacare is repealable, and should be replaced with a plan to cover the uninsured and reduce costs.
Obamacare’s authors paid lip service to these goals but had an ulterior motive: forging a permanent Democratic majority. The law creates a huge infrastructure for enrolling millions of people not just in healthcare but also for food stamps, housing assistance, and other welfare programs — and registering them to vote.
Here are the pillars of this corrupt scheme. None of the minor fixes Republicans are discussing come even close to sweeping away this corruption.
Navigators and assisters: (Sec. 1311) Instead of government employees promoting Obamacare and enrolling the uninsured, the law reserves these jobs for community activists, unions, community health clinics and other not-for-profits. Players include the NAACP, Planned Parenthood, and Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Hiring these groups is a way to fund the shadow army of the Democratic Party in between elections.
Assisters sign up the uninsured for non-health benefits and register them to vote. It recalls the days of Tammany Hall, when local ward bosses got the poor and newly arrived whatever they needed, in exchange for their votes. Obamacare institutionalizes this corrupt model and pays for it with your premiums.
Community Transformation Grants and Community Health Centers: Section 4201 of Obamacare provides over $100 million a year in grants to improve “the emotional and social wellness of their community” and other mushy mandates. The lion’s share goes to activists. Community health centers, funded expressly to deliver care to illegal immigrants, say their key mission is to register people to vote.
Bailouts for Insurers: (Sec.1342.) Obamacare rules make it impossible for insurers to offer “affordable” plans and still cover their costs. The premiums have to cover a long list of mandatory benefits as well as $100 billion in taxes on insurers over the decade. Insurers also have to cover seriously ill people for the same price as healthy people. Every state that tried this “community rating” scheme has seen premiums soar, as the healthy stop buying the plans.
To fool the public into thinking Obamacare is affordable, the law includes a bailout. It encourages insurers to price plans below cost, with the assurance that taxpayer money will make them whole for most losses at the end of the year. In short, John Q. Public is paying to make a law look affordable that isn’t. Worse, in January, the Obama administration sweetened the bailout terms, something only Congress has the authority to do.
The final pillar is the big lie that this law is paid for. On paper, reductions in future Medicare spending pay for over half the law, including a staggering 27 percent cut in payments to Medicare Advantage plans. But the administration is postponing these cuts to dodge angry seniors. Also postponed is the employer mandate requiring workplaces with 50 or more full time employees to provide a costly package of benefits. In anticipation of it, employers are holding their workforces below 50 or cutting hours below the law’s zany 30-hour a week definition of full time. In the first seven months of 2013, an astounding 77 percent of hires were part time. With the employer mandate, the economy cannot recover. Without it, millions more will need taxpayer funded coverage and Obamacare collapses.
So much for the false sales pitch that Obamacare is paid for and repealing it would increase the deficit. Attention GOP: repeal this unfixable “stinkburger.”
Betsy McCaughey, a former lt. governor of New York, is a syndicated columnist.